November 22, 2016

War on Science

John Tierney -- as in New York Times's John Tierney -- has an incredible column in City Journal: "The Real War on Science." Spoiler Alert: it ain't the eeevil Republicans.

My liberal friends sometimes ask me why I don't devote more of my science journalism to the sins of the Right. It's fine to expose pseudoscience on the left, they say, but why aren't you an equal-opportunity debunker? Why not write about conservatives' threat to science?

My friends don't like my answer: because there isn't much to write about. Conservatives just don't have that much impact on science. I know that sounds strange to Democrats who decry Republican creationists and call themselves the "party of science." But I've done my homework. I've read the Left's indictments, including Chris Mooneys bestseller, The Republican War on Science. I finished it with the same question about this war that I had at the outset: Where are the casualties?

Where are the scientists who lost their jobs or their funding? What vital research has been corrupted or suppressed? What scientific debate has been silenced? Yes, the book reveals that Republican creationists exist, but they don't affect the biologists or anthropologists studying evolution.

Conversely, the left's retrograde antics destroy careers, terminate funding, and -- oh yeah -- kill people.
Mooney's brief acknowledgment that leftists "here and there" have been guilty of "science abuse." First, there's the Left's opposition to genetically modified foods, which stifled research into what could have been a second Green Revolution to feed Africa. Second, there's the campaign by animal-rights activists against medical researchers, whose work has already been hampered and would be devastated if the activists succeeded in banning animal experimentation. Third, there's the resistance in academia to studying the genetic underpinnings of human behavior, which has cut off many social scientists from the recent revolutions in genetics and neuroscience. Each of these abuses is far more significant than anything done by conservatives, and there are plenty of others. The only successful war on science is the one waged by the Left.

This is a City Journal piece, so clear a bit of time and get some coffee, but do please read the whole thing.

If you want a taste, read my Hat-Tip: Ronald Bailey: Liberals Don't Really F***ing Love Science

Junk Science Philosophy Science Posted by John Kranz at November 22, 2016 10:30 AM

Love it! Another excellent entry in the blog's "Junk Science" category.

It reminds me of this one.

Posted by: johngalt at November 22, 2016 3:00 PM

Hey, that is a nice one. And good tip, I did add this to "Junk Science."

I think Tierney, being science writer at the Times has some good cred -- though many are probably annoyed with his appearances on Penn & Teller BS. I also dig the explicit references to liberty and control.

Posted by: jk at November 22, 2016 4:18 PM | What do you think? [2]